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August 1, 2014
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At a press conference Friday, President Obama admitted that some of the actions taken by the CIA in the U.S.'s fight against terrorism were "wrong," including torture.

Obama didn't mince words, admitting that after the Sept. 11 attacks, "We tortured some folks. We did some things that are contrary to our values." The remarks were notable for their bluntness, since both Obama and his predecessor had refrained from using the "t" word to describe the CIA's "enhanced interrogation techniques" against suspected terrorists, a phrase that has been widely criticized for covering up U.S. crimes.

Obama's remarks came in response to a question about CIA Director John Brennan, who is under fire after the spy agency admitted this week that it had spied on Senate staffers. Obama said he had "full confidence" in Brennan. Meghan DeMaria

12:19 a.m. ET
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Any member of the Electoral College who wants to vote against Donald Trump but would violate state law by doing so has the support of a Harvard University law professor and a California-based law firm.

Larry Lessig has started "The Electors Trust" in order to give free counsel to electors through the firm Durie Tangri. Lessig said his group will also give electors guaranteed anonymity so they can determine if there are enough electors set on keeping Trump from winning the presidency. "It makes no sense to be elector number five who comes out against Trump," Lessig told Politico. "But it might make sense to be elector 38."

A group of at least eight Democratic electors from Colorado and Washington have started an effort of their own, called the "Hamilton Electors," to lobby Republican electors to ditch Trump in favor of another GOP candidate. Because Trump has 306 electoral votes, they are trying to flip at least 37 Republicans, and the Hamilton Electors hinted Monday they would likely choose Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) as the alternative to Trump. One Republican elector, Chris Suprun of Texas, went on the record Monday, writing in The New York Times that he will not vote for Trump when the members cast the official vote on Dec. 19. If the electors are able to block Trump's election, it would be sent to the House of Representatives. Catherine Garcia

12:09 a.m. ET

In the past week, the world has caught "glimpses of what likely will be two of the most important features of a Donald Trump presidency," Seth Meyers said on Monday's Late Night: "His willingness to make false claims with no evidence, and his shoot-from-the-hip approach to foreign policy — and those two things do not mix well." Meyers was playing catch-up from being on vacation last week, and that allowed his "closer look" to pull back a bit for some perspective. It wasn't exactly a comforting panorama.

"When you're dealing with foreign powers and unstable regions, you need sober, analytical thinking and a firm grasp of reality — qualities you definitely do not associate with Donald Trump," Meyers said, laying out his thesis. He began with the apparent disregard for facts in Trumpworld, highlighting Trump's baseless claim about illegal voters and comparing Vice President-elect Mike Pence, Reince Priebus, and other Trump aides to "entitled" helicopter parents defending their bratty child at a high school.

"The scariest thing about these false conspiracy theories is that a lot of people believe them," Meyers said, playing a clip of a CNN reporter listening to a Trump voter confidently parrot the illegal-voter myth, the reporter ending up with her hand on her forehead. "Look at how frustrated she is," Meyers said. "I'm starting to think hand on the forehead is how we're going to do the Pledge of Allegiance during the Trump years." Then he got to the bigger point: "At the heart of the Trump team's defense of these false conspiracy theories is the cynical notion that truth doesn't matter at all, that people can choose to believe whatever reality they want to believe."

Despite the implicit Trump argument and the explicit claim of Trump surrogates, facts do exist, and they "really do matter, whether you believe in them or not," Meyers said. And that's especially true in foreign relations. You can watch how he ties that point to China, Pakistan, and the Philippines — and ends up with his hand on his forehead — in the video below. Peter Weber

December 5, 2016
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Sure, the 2016 election is still visible in the rearview mirror, but there's no better time than now to start speculating on who might run in 2020.

After a Senate session on Monday, Vice President Joe Biden was asked by a reporter if he would ever run for office again. Biden quickly responded yes, in 2020, and when pressed, he said he would try for the presidency, adding, "What the hell, man." Another reporter asked Biden if he was kidding, but instead of walking the statement back, Biden said he couldn't entirely rule out the possibility, adding, "I learned a long time ago, fate has a strange way of intervening."

In 2020, Biden will be 78, and it will be more than 45 years since he first was elected to represent Delaware in the Senate. Biden, who ran for president in 1988 and 2008, announced in 2015 he would not be running in the 2016 race, as he was still dealing with the loss of his son, Beau, to cancer. Catherine Garcia

December 5, 2016
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Security has been increased at transit stations across Los Angeles County after the FBI received an anonymous phone call on Monday threatening the Metro Red Line station in Universal City.

The threat was made through a public safety line, FBI Assistant Director in Charge Deirdre Fike said during a news conference Monday night. The person said something was going to happen at the station on Tuesday, and law enforcement is working to determine the threat's credibility. Mayor Eric Garcetti urged the public to be cautious, but go about their normal routines, and Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said there will be more uniformed and undercover deputies at stations and on trains. Catherine Garcia

December 5, 2016
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After a 2015 internal study requested by Pentagon leaders suggested that $125 billion was spent on administrative waste in its business operations, the report was quickly hidden over concerns Congress might use the information to cut the defense budget, The Washington Post reports.

Through interviews and confidential memos, the Post discovered that the point of the study was to make the Pentagon's back-office bureaucracy more efficient, and the money saved would then be reinvested in combat power. The Defense Business Board, looking at personnel and cost data, found that the Pentagon was spending $134 billion of its $580 billion budget on overhead and operations like human resources, accounting, and property management. More than 1 million people work in business operations, nearly as many as the 1.3 million active-duty troops. The report recommended early retirements and attrition, making better use of information technology, and cutting back on expensive contractors in order to save $125 billion over five years, the Post says. It did not suggest any layoffs of civil servants or reductions in military personnel.

This report didn't go over well with some Pentagon leaders, who had no idea how much money was being spent on these operations and worried that by showcasing administrative waste, Congress and the White House might slash their budget, the Post says. A summary report had been made public, but was removed from the Pentagon's website, and they placed secrecy restrictions on the data. "They're all complaining that they don't have any money," Bobby Stein, who served as chairman of the Defense Business Board, told the Post. "We proposed a way to save a ton of money." He called the data "indisputable," and said it was a "travesty" for the Pentagon to keep the results hidden. "We're going to be in peril because we're spending dollars like it doesn't matter."

Deputy Defense Secretary Robert O. Work, the second-highest-ranking official at the Pentagon, told the Post he didn't dispute the findings about the size and scope of the Pentagon's bureaucracy, but said the $125 billion savings proposal was "unrealistic" and the board did not understand how difficult it would be to cut so many federal civil service jobs. Read more about the report, how it was developed, and Defense Secretary Ash Carter's reaction to it at The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia

December 5, 2016
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Smokers who think they're playing it safe by lighting up just one cigarette a day are still at much greater risk of dying early than nonsmokers, researchers announced Monday.

Writing in the American Medical Association's JAMA Internal Medicine, a team from the National Cancer Institute said that while looking at surveys submitted by almost 300,000 people who detailed their smoking habits over a lifetime, they found that people who said they smoked an average of less than one cigarette a day had a 64 percent higher risk of dying early than nonsmokers. Smokers who went through up to half a pack a day, when averaged over a lifetime, had an 87 percent higher risk of dying early than people who had never smoked.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says smoking kills more than 480,000 Americans every year. Smoking rates have dropped in the United States, with only about 15 percent of adults partaking, but the number of people who said they smoke fewer than 10 cigarettes a day has jumped from 16 percent in 2005 to 27 percent in 2014. "The results of this study support health warnings that there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke," study leader Maki Inoue-Choi said. "Together, these findings indicate that smoking even a small number of cigarettes per day has substantial negative effects and provide further evidence that smoking cessation benefits all smokers, regardless of how few cigarettes they smoke." Catherine Garcia

December 5, 2016
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A U.N. Security Council proposal aimed at ending the fighting in Aleppo, Syria, was vetoed Monday by Russia and China.

Syrian troops and Iranian-backed militias have made huge strides in Aleppo, with rebels boxed into a small area. Russia is an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and has vetoed several resolutions attempting to stop the violence. Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Monday the proposal did not recognize diplomatic efforts with the United States, and that's why it was vetoed. U.S. Deputy Ambassador Michele Sison called that a "made-up alibi," adding, "We will not let Russia string along the Security Council while waiting for a compromise that never seems to come."

Over the past few weeks, more than 500 civilians have been killed in Aleppo. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said at least 50,000 residents fled the rebel-held area of Aleppo last week, with tens of thousands remaining trapped. The fighting continued Monday in the Old City, with heavy bombing in the al-Zubdiyah neighborhood. As the rebels lose ground, The Washington Post reports they have two options — stay in Aleppo, where they will almost certainly be defeated, or go to the neighboring province of Idlib, a hub of the armed opposition. Catherine Garcia

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